Danger music

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Danger music is an experimental form of avant-garde 20th and 21st century music. It is based on the concept that some pieces of music can or will harm either the listener or the performer. Since the performances must nearly always be canceled before they can be performed, danger music can also be thought of more as a form of noise music.[clarification needed] For example, Takehisa Kosugi's composition Music for a Revolution[1] directs the performer to gouge out one of his or her eyes five years from now. Works such as this are also sometimes referred to as anti-music because they seem to rebel against the concept of music itself. Danger music is often closely associated with the Fluxus school of composition, especially the work of Dick Higgins who composed a series of works entitled Danger Music.[2]

In performance[edit]

Australian noise musician Justice Yeldham plays an instrument made of glass, often shattering it during live shows and receiving facial wounds in the process. (Pictured: shattered glass strews the stage after a Justice Yeldham show.)

As with many forms of concept music and performance art, the lines between "music", "art", "theater", and "social protest" are not always clear or apparent. Danger Music consequently has some things in common with the performance art of artists such as Mark Pauline and Chris Burden. For instance, some extreme examples of danger music direct performers to use sounds so loud that they will deafen the participants, or ask performers to throw antipersonnel bombs into the audience. Yamantaka Eye's noise project Hanatarash was notable for its dangerous live shows, the most famous instance being when the Japanese artist drove a bulldozer through the venue at the back of the stage. There were also reports of audience members being required to fill out waivers before shows to prevent the band or the venue being sued in case of any potential danger caused to them. Other pieces involve more symbolic forms of "danger", such as Nam June Paik's "Danger Music for Dick Higgins," which directs the performer to "creep into the vagina of a living whale",[3] or a piece may direct that the volume of the music steadily increases causing the audience to fear that it will make them defecate (see Brown note), although it might never reach that point.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Quote
  2. ^ David Cope (2001), "Danger Music", New directions in music, p. 105, ISBN 978-1-57766-108-5
  3. ^ Michael Nyman (1999), "Danger Music", Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, p. 72, ISBN 0-521-65383-5

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]